Mental Health Court

Topics: Mental disorder, Crime, Bench Pages: 6 (2330 words) Published: September 18, 2013
Mental Health Court
Mental Health Court
2013
By: Elizabeth Gavin
Professor Contino Class: Corrections One 9/17/2013
2013
By: Elizabeth Gavin
Professor Contino Class: Corrections One 9/17/2013

Mental health courts are a resource given to prisoners who would normally be put in prison if they had not decided to join this special program. Mental health court is a court run program by the district attorney’s office in some counties. This program is based off of traditional court room structure but is also paired with community services. Mental health courts solve a lot of different problems within our criminal justice system. The first problem it solves is the systematic problem that we have with putting seriously mentally ill offenders in prison instead of putting them in a mental hospital or going through a mental health court program to help them deal with their illness. This gives the offenders the ability to learn how to handle their illness and stay on track to getting their life back together (Thompson, M., Osher, F., & Tomasini-Joshi, D. ,2008). People who work in the mental health court systems take the time out of their day to really take a critical look at the issues that offenders with mental illnesses face in the criminal justice system. They help craft new ways to deal with these offenders for example with some people you need a more hands on approach in their treatment program and a soft guiding hand, but with other individuals you need to have a firmer no nonsense approach to make them realize that this is not a game but rather an opportunity to get their life back together. The mental health court really gives offenders the ability to work on major mental illnesses while working on taking care of legal issues. This is a very important step in the criminal justice system, because many individuals only committed these crimes due to the fact that they were off their medication at the time the crime occurred (Thompson, M., Osher, F., & Tomasini-Joshi, D. 2008). Mental health courts are very similar to a drug court that you would see. Mental health courts are more of a relaxed dynamic compared to your traditional court room setting. Mental health courts typically meet once a week on a specific day and at a specific time. Before the mental health court the case worker, probation officer, judge, and many other people apart of the mental health court process meet to discuss each individual before they see them that day. They spend this time making decisions on what to do with certain individuals who aren’t complying with the terms and also how to keep encouraging everyone who is doing a great job in the program. Mental health court is defiantly more of an encouraging environment for offenders than a traditional court room setting. You have a lot of people who truly want to rehabilitate these offenders and give all their effort to do so. Mental health court is a program that is voluntary. Offenders must opt-in to mental health court to receive the treatment that he/she wants to receive. Some places give the offender the ability to observe the mental health court process while they decide if they want to participate. Although many apply for mental health court not all are accepted into this program. In order to be accepted into mental health court you have to have had an evaluation with a psychiatrist and have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Every court varies and because of the extensive amount of disorders in the DSM which as of this year is now 800 pages long not every disorder is accepted as the right diagnosis for mental health court. While I am talking about this section I am going to use York County as an example for what is expected of someone in mental health court and what diagnostic criteria you have to meet. To be accepted into the York County mental health court you must meet the diagnostic criteria which means...

References: Mental health courts a primer for policy makers and practitioners. (2008).
The Proliferation of Mental Health Courts. Center for Court Innovation. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Sept. 2013
Thompson, M., Osher, F., & Tomasini-Joshi, D. (2008).Improving responses to people with mental illnesses: The essential elements of a mental health court.
What have we learned from evaluations of mental health courts?. (N.d.).
York county mental health court manual . (May, 2005).
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